New York, NY, September 10, 2012
Round-the Clock Protests and Heightened Public Pressure Force Employer to Negotiate Unprecedented Agreement with Union to Reopen Restaurant
Following an escalating week-long campaign against the August 31st closure of Upper East Side restaurant Hot and Crusty, resulting in the loss of 23 jobs, workers announced both sides had reached an agreement to reopen the store, rehire terminated workers and resume bargaining with the union, the Hot and Crusty Workers Association. Public protests against the closure, which workers and supporters claim was a direct attack on the newly formed independent union, led to an occupation of the store by members of Occupy Wall Street, resulting in 6 arrests, and daily picketing and leafleting in the surrounding Upper East Side community. Lawyers representing new ownership of the company contacted the union over the weekend seeking to immediately put an end to the ongoing labor dispute.
The Hot and Crusty Workers Association announced workers would be returning to the shop in as soon as two weeks, and that the employer would commence negotiating with the union towards a collective bargaining agreement; additionally, the union announced the employer conceded to the establishment of a hiring hall, with which the union will have exclusive control over hiring. Lawyers representing the company have also agreed they would request that all charges be dropped against the six individuals who were arrested while occupying the shop on Friday, August 31st. The Hot and Crusty Workers Association is represented by Eisner and Mirer, P.C.— the same firm recently settled substantial claims for unpaid wages on behalf of the workers.
At a press conference announcing the victory, workers thanked the community for the hundreds of signatures and phone calls to ownership made on their behalf. Members of several unions that lent campaign support, including TWU Local 100, SEIU 32BJ, LIUNA Local 79, DC 37, Workers United, UAW and the PSC delivered messages of praise and support for the workers, emphasizing the historic significance of the victory. A letter of solidarity was read from the Bay Area International Longshore and Warehouse Union, emphasizing the importance of organizing immigrant workers.
Workers credited grassroots labor organization Laundry Workers Center with moving the campaign forward successfully, having provided months of training and organizing support. Laundry Workers Center Founder Rosanna Rodriguez highlighted the importance of organizing and empowering workers to lead their own campaigns, saying, “our goal at the Laundry Workers Center is to improve the working class socio-economic condition, and this is a perfect example that when we organize workers and the community around
common principles, we have real victories. As an immigrant woman, I am very
proud of this achievement.”
Mahoma Lopez, a leader in the campaign who has worked at Hot and Crusty for over 7 years, emphasized “this is a victory for all immigrant workers. We did this together, and this wouldn’t have been possible without the community support. When workers come together, anything is possible. The union gives us power.”
The workers, along with supporters from Occupy Wall Street, the community and several labor unions have pledged to maintain a daily picket line on the corner of 63rd and 2nd avenue until the company makes good on its promise to reopen the store and rehire all who were terminated.